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2006's Bill of Wrongs 605

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the that-time-of-year dept.
Jamie continued the never ending flow of year-end recap stories, this one is the Bill of Wrongs which lists the 10 most outrageous civil liberties violations of the year, according to Slate. Several of these aren't news to Slashdot readers, but it's still worth a read.
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2006's Bill of Wrongs

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  • I was please that he did not get the death peanalty primarily because he so obviously WANTED to get the death penalty. The man wanted to die, and I'm glad he was not given his wish.
  • What about bans? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Blakey Rat (99501) on Sunday December 31, 2006 @12:49PM (#17416480)
    Banning trans-fats in New York, banning smoking in Seattle. This has been the year of banning activities in the name of public health. Talk about violating civil liberties! (And, natch, in every single case the ACLU was behind it 100%.)
    • by Guppy06 (410832) on Sunday December 31, 2006 @12:55PM (#17416500)
      "Banning trans-fats in New York, banning smoking in Seattle."

      Considering how many of the people in the states of New York and Washinton have their health care paid for by the state, typically the elderly and infirm who are receiving expensive treatments for the effects of trans-fats and smoking, these bans seem to be a justified cost-saving measure to me.

      It's like state seatbelt and motorcycle helmet laws; it's not the state saying "These things are good for you" so much as "Ambulance rides are expensive and our emergency rooms are full."
      • by jav1231 (539129) on Sunday December 31, 2006 @01:05PM (#17416560)
        First of all, the article takes a lot for granted that I personally do not. Basically, it rips the taglines from the media and comments on them as fact. The U.S. media hardly exposes the facts, at least not all of them.
        As for "these bans seem to be a justified cost-saving measure to me"...
        Now that is a liberal. Bitch at the Republicans accusing them of "trading liberty for security" but if it saves money, why not!?
        • by Guppy06 (410832) on Sunday December 31, 2006 @01:29PM (#17416704)
          "Now that is a liberal. Bitch at the Republicans accusing them of "trading liberty for security" but if it saves money, why not!?"

          If the state is to be exptected to pay for a steady stream of oxygen tanks, heart stints and bypasses and the like, then the state is justified in reducing the costs to the taxpayers by reducing their frequency.

          I would also be more than willing to accept a designation on your driver's license, similar to the markings for organ donors, that marks you as a (e. g.) smoker, thereby exempting you from both state-funded medical care or from the responsibility of any group healthcare programs you may be a part of, requiring you to pay for everything out-of-pocket as well as lowering your priority in gaining access to treatment for your self-inflicted ailments. But the hue and cry against such a measure from indignant smokers (et al) would keep it from ever being enacted.

          I don't particularly mind people doing stupid things that kill them where they stand (unless the local morgue is particularly overtaxed), but in the case of activities that place an undue burden on public health resoures, resoures that must be shared between all citizens of the state, then the rest of the people have the right to take action, in their own self-interest, to prevent that burden. Whether they treat the demand side of the problem (by segregating off abusers into their own "separate but equal" healthcare system) or the supply side (by banning the materials in question) is up to them, but one way or the other, your right to smoke ends where it effects the livlihood of others.
          • by aztracker1 (702135) on Sunday December 31, 2006 @01:49PM (#17416828) Homepage
            Then by your own argument... Terrorists flying planes into big buildings costs the tax-payers a lot of money, ergo it is okay to do whatever is necessary to reduce terrorism... Same argument..

            Personally, I am more for a vastly smaller government, and that they stay the hell out of people's private lives... I'm also against the current system of socialized medicine.. how about a government sponsored non-profit insurance company... or even one that isn't govt sponsored? Reduce the tax burden on people to something below the 50% or so most people pay now (between income, fica, utility, and taxes on goods at more local level that's a lot of f-ing tax burden), then people could actually *pay* for their health care... also, if people were directly responsible for health care, they'd be more likely to shop around, instead of bowing to whatever the local hospital wants to charge...

            I live in a more rural community, and the local hospital charges more than 2x what a hospital in phoenix charges in most cases... this is with an overhead that is actually *lower*... Also, if the federal (and state) government wasn't so wasteful to begin with, it wouldn't matter so much. As for smoking affecting others, do like GB, and put smokers at the bottom of any list for aid when it comes to smoking-related illness (at least as far as govt sponsored health issues) .... Also, many retired/older smokers were "hooked" during their involvement with the US Army in wars last century... the Army issued cigarettes with their rations, and encouraged smoking as a way to help cope, claiming it was a safe thing to do... we (as a nation) have a responsibility to these people.
          • Re:What about bans? (Score:4, Interesting)

            by paganizer (566360) <`thegrove1' `at' `hotmail.com'> on Sunday December 31, 2006 @02:04PM (#17416914) Homepage Journal
            I'll go along with everything but the lowering of priority in gaining access to treatments. Of course, I smoke a pipe, so I'm not likely to see the problems A 2 pack-a-day smoker will.
            But, it has to be part of an omnibus law; one that will apply the same restrictions to people who drink alchohol, eat red meat, ingest products made with high fructose corn syrup, etc.

            I would also suggest that you restrict in a similar fashion people who are injured while driving a motor vehicle in speeds in excess of 30mph, bungee jumping, mountain climbing, scuba diving, flying, etc.

            It's only fair; people who purposefully do things which endenger their health shouldn't have to be treated the same way Sane, healthy, non-risk takers do.
            As this pretty much leaves the Amish, I imagine tax income would be seriously impacted, as it wouldn't be in the vast majority of peoples interest to pay taxes, since they wouldn't see any benefit.

            On a unrelated note, can someone direct me to a forum or mailing list where I can talk about TOR development? I can't seem to find anyplace, and I have some things I want to try.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by HanzoSpam (713251)
            If the state is to be exptected to pay for a steady stream of oxygen tanks, heart stints and bypasses and the like, then the state is justified in reducing the costs to the taxpayers by reducing their frequency.

            And that is the best argument I've heard all day as to why the state should not be in the business of providing health care at taxpayer expense. Period.
          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by Anonymous Coward
            ok, simple solution: the state no longer pays for any health care.
            • by sporkme (983186) * on Sunday December 31, 2006 @02:54PM (#17417198) Homepage
              Fine by me. Prices would drop pretty quickly as competition was reintroduced to the market.
              • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

                by JebusIsLord (566856)
                Will they drop to 0? Because $0 is all some people can afford to pay for an unplanned hospital stay. Or I guess the homeless should just die on the streets because they're too "lazy" to get jobs, right?

                The ability for you Americans to oversimplify complex issues for idealist reasons is absolutely incredible (and frightening).
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by JWW (79176)
            Whether they treat the demand side of the problem (by segregating off abusers into their own "separate but equal" healthcare system)

            Wow! that is mindblowing. Apparently civil rights are great except when allowing them is more costly, right??

            Now consider this fact, blacks have a higher incidence of heart disease, does that mean they'll get treated to "separate but equal" again with federal healthcare? Forget that!!!

            My position is this: If the feds want nationalized health care, then suck up the costs no m
            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by Guppy06 (410832)
              "Now consider this fact, blacks have a higher incidence of heart disease, does that mean they'll get treated to "separate but equal" again with federal healthcare?"

              To my knowledge, few people aside from the likes of John Howard Griffin woke up one morning and said "I want to be black!" But the various ailments people face from (e. g.) smoking, especially if they picked up the habit after the mandatory health warnings were placed on the packaging, were brought upon themselves voluntarily. It is wholly by t
          • by WhatAmIDoingHere (742870) * <sexwithanimals@gmail.com> on Sunday December 31, 2006 @02:22PM (#17417020) Homepage
            If my license got a stamp that said I was a smoker and couldn't take part in any state funded healthcare... If it meant I didn't have to pay for anyone else to get it either? I'd start smoking.

            Get rid of the state sponsored crap, let people choose their own insurance providers, let people deal with the consequences of their choices, and let people live their own lives.
            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by koreth (409849)
              Enough of this pantywaist "Centers for Disease Control" crap, let the diseases run rampant among the poor so we enlightened people don't have to pay for their stupid wasteful "vaccinations." If we care about not being surrounded by people with infectious diseases, we'll stay off the streets.

              Anyone who catches a viral disease should bloody well have stayed home that day. Let them deal with the consequences of their choices.

              • by bmac83 (869058) on Sunday December 31, 2006 @03:57PM (#17417588) Homepage

                Reductio ad absurdum. The GP was speaking about removing the government from a mainstream market that is already filled by the private sector. You are speaking of a government service I cannot "purchase" from Blue Cross and Blue Shield.

                In my opinion, the CDC is the perfect example of where the government should get involved. And, I would suspect that people opposed to direct government competition with the private sector would mostly agree.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Artifakt (700173)
            There's never any end to that arguement though. Imagine a state with no significant financial conflicts over medical care costs. Maybe the sort of medical care needed for anti-social act X becomes really cheap, or else the laws are changed to just write off self inflicted health problems from X and not fund treating them publicly.
            What really changes for your arguement? People who get sick before normal retirement age don't pay into social security as much, so 'your right to smoke' (eat
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Blakey Rat (99501)
        A much quicker and easier (if more "heartless") solution would simply to stop governmental medical benefits in the case of self-inflicted injuries.
      • by timeOday (582209) on Sunday December 31, 2006 @01:40PM (#17416770)
        Considering how many of the people in the states of New York and Washinton have their health care paid for by the state, typically the elderly and infirm who are receiving expensive treatments for the effects of trans-fats and smoking, these bans seem to be a justified cost-saving measure to me.
        That's a horrible argument because it can be used to ban absolutely anything. Every thing you do has an effect on other people. Freedom is nothing more or less than the willingness to tolerate some level of imposition by other people in return for them doing the same for you.
        • by Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) on Sunday December 31, 2006 @02:33PM (#17417078)

          In my country, the majority of people do not smoke. Smoking is known to cause many health problems, and we've long since debunked the myth that passive smoking is harmless. So is banning smoking in a public place -- something that directly prevents harm to the health of the majority, at the expense of some convenience for the minority -- really an infringement of freedom?

          Hint #1: Will my non-smoking, asthma-suffering friend who will finally be able to go to a bar in the evening have her freedom restricted?

          Hint #2: Will a family member who gave up smoking years ago and no longer has to suffer the smoky atmosphere he wanted to leave behind every time he goes out for a drink have his freedom restricted?

          Hint #3: Will the many non-smokers who will now be able to take work in the hospitality trade without risking their own health to do it have their freedom restricted?

          There are lots of rights and freedoms, and by default we should defend them all for everyone. But sometimes they come into conflict. Sometimes resolving that conflict is difficult, particularly when it involves an important principle (such as a right to privacy) clashing with a very practical need (such as the right to travel safely, even if it means your fellow passengers have to be searched/background checked/whatever).

          But sometimes, the decision is very easy for most people. Should the freedom of movement of a tried and convicted murderer outweigh the right of his neighbours not to be killed, or should we throw him in prison until he's no longer a danger to others? I believe the decision in that case would be near unanimous anywhere.

          There are no right answers on these ethical issues, no black and white, always shades of grey. But you're wrong that the argument can be used to ban anything, at least if you mean used effectively. Some things are worth spending money on, even though it means compelling everyone to contribute. If a strong majority really did not agree with this (rather than just whinging about paying taxes, while at the same time being happy to use facilities funded through taxation) then chances are that we would long since have reverted to a completely private, insurance-based, very multi-class society.

          For an argument about cost-saving to be effective, there has to be a clear moral case that the consequences are justified. In the case of smokers, as long as they were genuinely aware of the consequences and capable of making a reasoned decision independently, I don't see that there's much moral argument for putting their interests ahead of others who are given no choice about the smoker's actions, yet who suffer in health and potentially financial terms as a consequence.

          If you want a more difficult argument with smokers, try the case of an older person, who smoked in their youth before the dangers were fully understood, but who has long since given up and who now gets lung cancer. But for current smokers, it seems to me that banning them from doing so (at least when non-smokers are nearby) can be easily justified in health grounds, and the financial argument is compelling (given that the public money you aren't spending treating smokers can then be spent on helping others who may not have had any choice about their misfortune).

          (Footnote: The financial argument here assumes, of course, that the net cost of smoking to the health service is positive. This may or may not be a valid assumption, given that smokers tend to die younger and therefore not need increasing amounts of more expensive treatment in their old age. I've seen good arguments, backed by real statistics, on both sides of this argument. I'm not going to get into it again here, since my point is that the financial argument cannot be used automatically to justify arbitrary bans as the parent claimed, and smoking merely serves as a convenient example for discussion.)

    • by fotbr (855184) on Sunday December 31, 2006 @12:58PM (#17416518) Journal
      Neither of those are constitutionally protected rights, which is what TFA is about.
      • If I want to choose to eat at a restaurant that uses transfats then that is between me and that restaurant.
        • by NiceGeek (126629) on Sunday December 31, 2006 @01:29PM (#17416706)
          But how do you know if a restaurant serves transfats? The only way to protect consumers other than the outright ban would be to force all the restaurants to post the nutrition information of all their dishes (like the fast food chains are supposed to do). I would think that would be a more significant burden on the restaurants than the ban.
          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by dwarfking (95773)

            But how do you know if a restaurant serves transfats?

            This is a good point. I think the government's role should be the unbiased publication of factual research data (I support government funded research for everyone's quality of life), in simple layman's terms, of what impact a given activity can have on your health. Then you decide. If you decide to participate in an activity that is harmful, then along with all the claimed rights you have, you also have to accept the responsibilities.

            Of course w

          • by HiThere (15173) *
            Requiring that information be easily available MIGHT me more of a burden, but it's justifiable anyway. One can't make informed choices without information.

            OTOH, I already see lots of things that advertise "0% TransFats!" in brightly colored letters. So it can't be THAT much of a burden.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by jomama717 (779243)
          From a wikipedia [wikipedia.org] reference [nap.edu]:

          Trans fatty acids are not essential and provide no known benefit to human health. Therefore, no AI or RDA is set. As with saturated fatty acids, there is a positive linear trend between trans fatty acid intake and LDL cholesterol concentration, and therefore increased risk of CHD.

          In addition they don't even taste as good [bantransfats.com] . Everyone thinks that this means you can't eat french fries in New York anymore when in fact, the fries will taste better and decrease fry-lovers' chances of dying of heart disease. Trans fats are just used to make the food last longer. Why would you choose to eat trans-fats?

          • Re: (Score:2, Offtopic)

            by GundamFan (848341)
            This is exactly what I have been trying to tell people.

            Trans-fats are not good for the consumer in any way, they are good for the fast food corporations and as we all know they won't stop selling a product that kills there patrons slowly unless the state forces them to do so.

            Stop listening to the fast food propaganda and for that matter take a step back to really see what you are defending.
            • by MoneyT (548795)
              Entirely irrellevant to the discussion of whether the government has the right to ban it though.
    • by Phantom of the Opera (1867) on Sunday December 31, 2006 @12:59PM (#17416522) Homepage
      (And, natch, in every single case the ACLU was behind it 100%.)


      Is that a troll or do you actually have a reference to show that the ACLU was actively supporting such bans?
      Would you be against a ban of mercury in food as a seasoning?
      • I haven't heard of the ACLU jumping in to defend anyone's rights in this case.
        • by Bowling Moses (591924) on Sunday December 31, 2006 @01:39PM (#17416758) Journal
          "I haven't heard of the ACLU jumping in to defend anyone's rights in this case."

          Or the American Center for Law and Justice, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the Cato Institute, Greenpeace, the local Rotary club, the 700 Club, Sam's Club, Met Life, or the Society for Putting Things on Top of Other Things.
          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by Blakey Rat (99501)
            The point is that if the NAME of the organization is the "American Civil Liberties Union", you might reasonably expect them to be interested in preserving civil liberties. But instead they're just the typical liberal pussies. (Which is fine; I have no problem with that, except they really need to change the name so some organization that *does* care about civil liberties can have it.)
            • Cry me a river (Score:4, Insightful)

              by benhocking (724439) <benjaminhocking@@@yahoo...com> on Sunday December 31, 2006 @02:08PM (#17416942) Homepage Journal

              How in the world does your "civil liberty" to eat trans-fats or stick a cancer stick in your puss compare with being tortured or having habeas corpus revoked? If this ranks as one of the more serious problems you have with the ACLU, then they must be a remarkable group.

              I'm sorry, I just don't see these as civil liberty issues. Of course, there are things the ACLU fights for that I also think don't qualify, but still, to claim silence on such petty issues is the same as support, is like saying that you obviously supported Kenneth Kaunda [wikipedia.org] since you never spoke against him.

            • by MrHanky (141717)
              Here [google.com] is a link explaining what a civil liberty is. Smoking isn't any more of a civil liberty than using your neighbour's bathtub as a urinal.

      • Would you be against a ban of mercury in food as a seasoning?


        I would be. As a seasoning it is far too hot and dry. Also, it tends to take up much more of your plate. I find Europa far more suited to seasoning IMO.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Blakey Rat (99501)
        I heard an interview with Barry Groveman, mayor of Calabasas, CA about their smoking ban which is far more draconian than the Seattle one. (For instance, if you follow the letter of the law, it bans smoking in many private homes.) The interview was on the Adam Carolla morning radio show. Groveman was extremely proud that he had the full support of the ACLU for his civil-liberties-smashing ordinance. If the ACLU was for the most draconian anti-smoking law in the US, it stands to reason they were also for the
        • not exactly (Score:3, Informative)

          A little research on the ACLU site shows this snippet about regulating tobacco advertising

          http://www.aclu.org/freespeech/commercial/11064leg 20020918.html [aclu.org]

          From the article:

          The ACLU believes that the breadth of the prohibition on tobacco advertisements far exceeds constitutional boundaries, and, if enacted, will most likely fail to withstand constitutional challenge. Moreover, we believe the enactment of the proposed tobacco advertising restrictions would drastically curtail commercial

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Groveman was extremely proud that he had the full support of the ACLU for his civil-liberties-smashing ordinance. If the ACLU was for the most draconian anti-smoking law in the US, it stands to reason they were also for the Seattle and New York bans.

          Mr. Groveman points out that if you go to the American Civil Liberties Union, you will find that they dont oppose actions like this, because they know that civil liberties do not extend to actions that hurt other people.

          Emphasis added. Your own link undercu

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Those do not ban your rights to eat garbage or smoke.
      it bans ban you from selling me that crap (because it is 0.001% cheaper than healthier stuff), and it bans you from polluting the air I breath.

      your liberties stop were they start hurting others.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Blakey Rat (99501)
        I'm yet to be convinced that second-hand smoke harms anybody, except perhaps workers at restaurants and bars who *choose* to work there despite the smoke, in which case I don't think the government should swoop in and "save" them from themselves.

        The anti-smoking propaganda is so thick in the last few years that it's hard to separate the bullshit from the fact. My favorite ad is the one that says, non-chalantly and without reference to any scientific publication, that second-hand smoke causes asthma in child
        • by KillerDeathRobot (818062) on Sunday December 31, 2006 @01:55PM (#17416860) Homepage
          I'm yet to be convinced that second-hand smoke harms anybody, except perhaps workers at restaurants and bars who *choose* to work there despite the smoke, in which case I don't think the government should swoop in and "save" them from themselves.

          Oh right, I forgot that everyone always has the choice to have a different job than they currently have. No one ever gets stuck, unable to find a better job and unable to quit and live with no job.
          • by HanzoSpam (713251)
            Oh right, I forgot that everyone always has the choice to have a different job than they currently have. No one ever gets stuck, unable to find a better job and unable to quit and live with no job.

            Whose problem is that - your's or your employers? It's not your employer's fault if you're too much of a dim bulb to improve your circumstances.
        • by ElephanTS (624421)
          Yes, seconded. It's almost total disinfo or bad science as far as I know. I read a proper scientific report on the effects of passive smoking, the main conlusion was that banning smoking in a bar saved the 40hour bar worker 6 cigarettes intake over a period of 12 months. It's an easy enough experiment to do and those were the results. If you smoked one cigarette every two months I don't think you'd be at any risk at all. There is no proven link to rising asthma rates and smoking either. My hunch is that the
          • OK, I'll play. Where's the link on badscience.net that shows that passive smoking isn't really damaging at all, and it's all just a popular myth?

            Failing that, how about one of the other well-respected urban legends pages, maybe snopes.com?

            You know, it's ironic that a person who objects to a "scientifically illiterate population" being "so easily lead[sic]" makes a post in which he uses phrases like "as far as I know" and "My hunch is that", yet the one "proper scientific report" mentioned is not cited e

        • I'm yet to be convinced that second-hand smoke harms anybody

          Have you even bothered looking at the evidence? Try this factsheet on passive smoking [ash.org.uk] for example -- yours for the price of Googling "second hand smoking evidence" and reading the second hit. (For those who are curious but can't be bothered to follow the link: it's by an anti-smoking lobby group, but cites numerous scientific papers from diverse sources to back up its specific criticisms.) If you don't buy that one, go ahead and follow a few mo

        • by Kjella (173770)
          I'm yet to be convinced that [dangerous machinery] harms anybody, except perhaps workers at [factories] who *choose* to work there despite the [danger], in which case I don't think the government should swoop in and "save" them from themselves.

          With that logic, three'd be no worker safety laws. And on a personal level, it used to be the one smoker who dragged everyone to a smoking section, now everyone else get what they want and the smoker has to go outside. My sympathy-o-meter is really at a low, now final
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by joewhaley (264488)

          Well, I don't suppose you would trust the U.S. Surgeon General [surgeongeneral.gov] that secondhand smoke causes asthma in children.

          And I suppose the International Journal of Epidemiology is in on the Vast Conspiracy about secondhand smoke: Non-smoker lung cancer deaths attributable to exposure to spouse's environmental tobacco smoke [oxfordjournals.org]

          Not to mention the American Lung Association. "Secondhand smoke causes approximately 3,400 lung cancer deaths and 22,700-69,600 heart disease deaths in adult nonsmokers in the United States ea

    • I've heard a bunch of people complain about the NYC trans-fat ban, and I really don't get why people are upset. It isn't an attempt to make "unhealthy eating" illegal, or even make it illegal to eat trans-fats. It's just a ban on selling trans-fats in restaurants. You have to remember that, when you're talking about trans-fats, you usually aren't talking about naturally-occuring stuff in real food. It's kind of a gross grey goop that is artificially made, horribly bad for you, and used because it's chea

    • by Rhone (220519)

      Banning trans-fats in New York, banning smoking in Seattle. This has been the year of banning activities in the name of public health. Talk about violating civil liberties!

      The trans-fat ban only applies to restaurants, so restaurant customers in NYC will hopefully be able to go out to eat without having to stress over whether their food is loaded up with one of the greatest (and most unnecessary!) evils the food industry has assaulted us with. Meanwhile, idiots who don't care about their health are still

      • by Blakey Rat (99501)
        The law in Seattle applies to any public place and any outdoor area within 25' of a public place or an air vent, open window connected to a public place. Transit buses count as "public places," which means that if you're standing 20' away from a bus stop and are smoking, the instant a bus pulls up and opens its door you're in violation of the law.
    • Banning trans-fats in New York, banning smoking in Seattle.

      Smoking, at the very least, is a public nuisance. There is no law against public smoking that isn't justified. People should not be allowed to smoke within 500 yards of any other person.

      I was with you about Trans-Fats, until I read this article [straightdope.com] about the issue on The Straight Dope. I figured it was more idiocy from the Health Nazis who want to ban anything that tastes good, but this is really about a cheaper substitute that has a big effect on

    • by jonnythan (79727)
      Trans fat is still legal in New York.

      You can go to the grocery store and buy as much margarine (and whatever else) with trans fats as you want.

      Trans fat has been prohibited for use by *restaurants* serving prepared food in New York City. It's a public health concern because there's no way for a patron to know whether the fried food they are ordering was made with regular fats and oils or the much more dangerous, not as tasty, and overall inferior trans fats.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Banning trans-fats in New York, banning smoking in Seattle. This has been the year of banning activities in the name of public health. Talk about violating civil liberties! (And, natch, in every single case the ACLU was behind it 100%.)

      Smoking in public places I might understand. (Though I'd be inclined to disagree, since I don't smoke cigarettes.) But you lost your civil liberty to sell me trans fats in New York? Find me a violin.

      People specifically want to buy cigarettes, because they are addicted to nico
  • "Bush sucks".
  • From the top down.

    10. Attempt to Get Death Penalty for Zacarias Moussaoui
    Long after it was clear the hapless Frenchman was neither the "20th hijacker" nor a key plotter in the attacks of 9/11, the government pressed to execute him as a "conspirator" in those attacks. Moussaoui's alleged participation? By failing to confess to what he may have known about the plot, which may have led the government to disrupt it, Moussaoui directly caused the deaths of thousands of people. This massive overreading of the federal conspiracy laws would be laughable were the stakes not so high. Thankfully, a jury rejected the notion that Moussaoui could be executed for the crime of merely wishing there had been a real connection between himself and 9/11.

    Yes, "the government" tried to execute someone. Everyone in the entire government was in on it. They all wanted to slay him mercilessly. But wait.. The jury decided against it. Hrmm. And the jury is technically part of "the government". Remember, the three parts of the US government? Yeah, one of them being judicial? Apparently "the government" decided not to execute him after all. Because once you are selected for a jury you are in the government, being paid by the government, performing a government role. So, let's get a little more specific, shall we Slate? It wasn't "The Government" that tried to execute him. It was overzealous prosecutors riding a power-trip straight to hell.

    9. Guantanamo Bay
    It takes a licking but it keeps on ticking. After the Supreme Court struck down the military tribunals planned to try hundreds of detainees moldering on the base, and after the president agreed that it might be a good idea to close it down, the worst public relations fiasco since the Japanese internment camps lives on. Prisoners once deemed "among the most dangerous, best-trained, vicious killers on the face of the earth" are either quietly released (and usually set free) or still awaiting trial. The lucky 75 to be tried there will be cheered to hear that the Pentagon has just unveiled plans to build a $125 million legal complex for the hearings. The government has now officially put more thought into the design of Guantanamo's court bathrooms than the charges against its prisoners.

    Way to misrepresent the facts. The prisoners were deemed potentially to be the so-called vicious killers. Given the attacks on the USA, can you really expect us not to be at least a little sensitive to the possibility? So we found out many of them weren't. That is why we released them. And, what do you expect, we should yell at the top of our lungs that they were innocent? Nobody really cares. The USA is out for blood after 9/11. If we find people to be innocent we release them. There's really no reason to go out of our way to release them any way *but* quietly.

    8. Slagging the Media
    Whether the Bush administration is reclassifying previously declassified documents, sidestepping the FOIA, threatening journalists for leaks on dubious legal grounds, or, most recently, using its subpoena power to try to wring secret documents from the ACLU, the administration has continued its "secrets at any price" campaign. Is this a constitutional crisis? Probably not. Annoying as hell? Definitely.

    This point at least has some reasonable balance to it. There's no doubt the Bush administration is having serious trouble with their information intelligence. Whether their motives are pure or not we cannot say. Do you have proof they are injuring civil liberties out of mere selfish political drive? I don't see it anywhere if you do.

    7. Slagging the Courts
    It starts with the president's complaints about "activist judges," and evolves to Congressional threats to appoint an inspector general to oversee federal judges. As public distrust of the bench is fueled, the stripping of courts' authority to hear whole classes of cases--most rec

    • by Qzukk (229616) on Sunday December 31, 2006 @01:50PM (#17416832) Journal
      Given the attacks on the USA, can you really expect us not to be at least a little sensitive to the possibility? So we found out many of them weren't. That is why we released them.

      Actually, we did not release most of the people who were released from Guantanamo Bay, we shipped them to other countries for "rendition" and those countries let them go. Furthermore, that court hasn't even been built, we haven't "found out" anything either way. Innocent until proven guilty is a great idea, shame the Republicans only believe in it when DeLay is getting hammered by their worldview.

      Do you have proof they are injuring civil liberties out of mere selfish political drive?

      What would that proof mean to you? That it's OK to "injure civil liberties" as long as you're not being selfish about it?

      Not enough people are active enough to contribute to the voice of the country.

      The voice of the country is perfectly healthy these days as long as you toe the party lines. Suggest after 9/11 that the pentagon was a valid military target, and even though it would have been the act of war that could have justified everything that followed, you end up getting death threats because that's not the politically expedient thing to suggest while the administration twists and grasps for any other excuse to go to war. In the years following that, over and over the same thing: if you don't say we're winning and things are going great, you're "aiding and abetting the enemy", grounds for a capital offense of treason, I believe. The only difference is that later, the threat was to use the power of government to execute you, rather than the suggestion that someone might break into your house at night and stab you in your sleep.

      Since this is about "activist courts" I'll throw in the observation that Bush's "signing statements" have been every bit as activist as the justices he decries. "Legislating from the White House" has no basis whatsoever in the Constitution, which specifically gives him the power to veto bills he does not like. The rest, he has sworn to faithfully execute.

      The rest of your post is the same pointless parroting "it couldn't have happened if the people didn't want it to". This, of course, can excuse anything from murder to p2p filesharing. The fact that we are "a nation of laws, not of men" is lost on you, Bush, and the rest of the die-hard Republicans. I'll believe that the "people wanted it to happen" when the Republicans obey the legally defined constitutional amendment process and set the laws of our nation to permit these things.

      Until then, we're going to be stuck listening to the same blowhards that have been spouting off the last 5 years. They'll be begging the Democrats not to impeach Bush over "partisan bickering" and it will probably work. These masses will hear about how changing presidents mid-war will be a sign of weakness (just like any other company, if a person quitting mid project or getting hit by a bus kills the company, you were doing it wrong), and they'll believe it. These masses will be told that the people complaining about Joseph Padilla, Maher Arar, international wiretaps, domestic call tracking, torture, and so on and so forth... they all want the terrorists to win and Americans to die, and they'll buy it.

      And so the world turns...
      • The fact that we are "a nation of laws, not of men" is lost on you, Bush, and the rest of the die-hard Republicans.

        First, I am not a die-hard Republican. Are you a die-hard Liberal?

        Second, "a nation of laws, not of men" misses an important point about humankind. Humans won't follow laws if they don't believe in them. They won't blindly believe a law is to be followed. People evaluate laws on a personal level based on their own values. The collective of personal evaluations across the country is what le

    • If every congressman, and senator got a letter from even 5% of their constituents (given how few actually write), there would likely be changes... not a letter bashing the bush administration, or everything on the list.. but citing a few specific examples to one area, and pointing out your view, things would change...

      You are right though, most people really don't care... and won't do anything about it.. despite there being things that *could* be done.. petition, writing campaigns.. but still, people woul
    • by kelleher (29528)

      If we ultimately rely on the courts to defend our civil liberties then we as citizens have failed democracy. Not enough people care enough to go out and vote. Not enough people are active enough to contribute to the voice of the country. If it stays this way, and doesn't change when too many civil liberties have vanished, there is nothing at all the courts will be able to do for us. Has this democracy already become an illusion?

      Although I don't agree with your entire response, this is a very good point.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Jerf (17166)
      Honestly, lists like this have what is probably the opposite of the intended effect on me: They make me feel pretty good about the United States.

      The number one civil liberties problem this entire year was... hubris ?!? My God, the Administration is claiming to be doing the right thing, even though their critics don't think they are? Batten down the hatches, ethnic cleansing can't be far behind!

      Seriously, though, look at this list: Only two items are concrete people (Jose Padilla and Zacarias Moussaoui), an
      • by Jerf (17166)
        Incidentally, I rather strongly agree with some of the other posters to this article.

        I think the idea that Bush is some sort of unique evil and that civil liberties violations must must must be connected to Bush is blinding people to the other far more real problems in the United States.

        Baldrson points out prison rape [slashdot.org]. I'm not personally certain about the true extent of the problem, but that's a big one.

        The endless actual civil liberty abuses in the name of the drug war dwarf the supposed civil liberty abus
  • by passthecrackpipe (598773) * <passthecrackpipe ... .com minus punct> on Sunday December 31, 2006 @01:18PM (#17416630)
    I for one, am happy to be a European right now - although the Blair Government is currently contemplating putting people predispositioned to crime in jail before they actually commit a crime. Nice....
    Anyway, some people in Washington may need a reminder [wikipedia.org] of what they claim the USA is about:

    O say, can you see, by the dawn's early light,
    What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming,
    Whose broad stripes and bright stars, through the perilous fight,
    O'er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming?
    And the rockets' red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
    Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there;
    O say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave
    O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?


    On the shore, dimly seen thro' the mist of the deep,
    Where the foe's haughty host in dread silence reposes,
    What is that which the breeze, o'er the towering steep,
    As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
    Now it catches the gleam of the morning's first beam,
    In full glory reflected, now shines on the stream
    'Tis the star-spangled banner. Oh! long may it wave
    O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!


    And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
    That the havoc of war and the battle's confusion
    A home and a country should leave us no more?
    Their blood has washed out their foul footstep's pollution.
    No refuge could save the hireling and slave
    From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave,
    And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
    O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.


    Oh! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
    Between their loved homes and the war's desolation,
    Blest with vict'ry and peace, may the Heav'n-rescued land
    Praise the Pow'r that hath made and preserved us a nation!
    Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
    And this be our motto--"In God is our trust."
    And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
    O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.
  • by Baldrson (78598) * on Sunday December 31, 2006 @01:19PM (#17416640) Homepage Journal
    From Steve Sailer [blogspot.com]:
    Yeah, you guessed it: DA Mike Nifong's Hunt for the Great White Defendants [vdare.com]in the Duke Lacrosse Frame-Up is a no-show. You see, the long-running pattern of hate crime hoaxes victimizing white male college students is nothing compared to, say, #8 on Lithwick's List, the Bush Administration "Slagging the Media."

    In recent news, the hoax continues to implode. Nifong dropped the rape charges but is pressing on with other felony charges. Meanwhile, the North Carolina State Bar is investigating Nifong for ethics violations [time.com]. And now the North Carolina Conference of District Attorneys has asked him to recuse [americanthinker.com]himself from the case.
    • I have felt bad for the Duke Lacrosse program and its players from the start, if only because I recognized the case as a probable "Tawana Brawley" incident early on. For those who don't know. Tawana Brawley was a teenager in Wappingers Falls, NY who made wild rape accusations a generation ago. The owners of the gas station that was a focus of her accusations were eventually vindated, but lost their business in the process.

      The appearance is now real, but that doesn't make the Duke lacross players who were
  • by Animats (122034) on Sunday December 31, 2006 @01:31PM (#17416718) Homepage

    Check out the Committee on Government Reform, United States House of Representatives, Minority Office [house.gov]. This is the official view of congressional Democrats of what the administration has been doing wrong. They're the minority office, so they can't do much except update their web site.

    On Tuesday, they become the Majority Office. Congressman Waxman becomes committee chair. Investigations will start shortly thereafter. We're going to see plenty of Administration officials being asked hard questions. Under oath. On TV. That's how Waxman works.

    "As set forth in House Rule X, clause 4, the Committee on Government Reform may, at any time, conduct investigations of any matter regardless of whether another standing committee has jurisdiction over the matter."

  • by Baldrson (78598) * on Sunday December 31, 2006 @01:40PM (#17416776) Homepage Journal
    Readers of slashdot, typically "nerdy" males, are the ones most directly targeted by the government's unofficial policy of tolerating racist gang rape of the least "street smart" or gang affiliated in its prison system. This functions to keep the most dangerous element of the population, technologists, in a state of perpetual terror of the government's wrath, not unlike the terror experienced by the denizens of George Orwell's "1984" who live under the subtle but continual threat of their worst fears in the Inner Party's "Room 101 [wikipedia.org]".

    When pressure came from Human Rights Watch [hrw.org] the US government's response was to pass a "Prisoner rape elimination act" the chief result of which was to commission a study by one Mark Fleisher, who concludes that, get this [spr.org]:

    sexual pressure ushers, guides or shepherds the process of sexual awakening.
    So the way your government retreats from its threat of having some ethnic gang make you its bitch and infect you with Hepatitis C if not AIDS while sexually torturing you because you're a technologist who got out of line, is to claim that you aren't being raped, you are experiencing "sexual awakening".

    This should have topped the list and of course, since American technologists don't count (just look at the H-1b and outsourcing riots trashing their ability to support families) it didn't appear anywhere

  • ... to the functioning of a democracy, surely to goodness, would be to complain about the broken and/or crooked and/or non-auditable election process?

    If you've got clean elections you've got some chance to fix the other stuff. If you don't have clean elections you're stuffed whatever you do.
  • There is a huge pool of incidents to choose from, and it's obvious that the author chose the ones that illustrated her disdain for the Bush Administration so as to continue her campaign of anti-Bush propaganda. Unfortunately, despite the obvious bias of the author, the incidents selected were mostly eligible for a list of this sort.

    It is depressing to read a list of this sort and know that it is only a small example of rights being trampled. It is depressing to read this article and realize that the governm

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